Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nails in the coffin

When is a storyline complete? 

Typing "The end" is no guarantee.  To the contrary, that simple phrase becomes a dare, firing the "But what if ..." circuit in authorial brains. Because in fiction, as in life, few things ever truly end.

Okay, the conflict has been resolved. Big deal: life is conflict. Like streetcars, another conflict will be along any minute.

So the Bad Guy has gotten his comeuppance. The world has been saved. Yawn.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


A few computer-centric curiosities from my file of virtual clippings:

Living Google-free. Impossible? (He asks ironically, while blogging on a Google property.) Here's the experience of someone who actually tried. How I Learned to Live Google-free: A quest to quit the most pervasive company on the Web (from IEEE Spectrum's Inside Technology blog).

Maintaining such independence, should you so desire, isn't getting any easier. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Google Acquires Facial Recognition Technology Company. Why? "The Web-search giant didn’t say what it plans to do with it."

 What has Google had to say about such technologies?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


A commonplace among authors (and common advice to those aspiring to write) is that ideas are "a dime a dozen." Meanwhile, one good idea can occupy an author for months, even years.

And yet, when readers email and con-goers inquire, the most frequent question asked of authors -- by far -- is "Where do you get your ideas?" (When the impetus is a random encounter, upon learning that I'm an SF author, the query becomes, "Where do you get your crazy ideas?") 

That's fair.  No matter how well an author handles the craft of writing, or even the world-building, what sticks with most readers is the premise or the plot. The idea, that is. The inspiration side of writing, not the perspiration side.

For example, what would John Varley's Titan be without the idea of a sentient world?  Or Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series without the idea of everyone who ever lived being reborn simultaneously on another planet? Or Eric Flint's 1632 without the idea of a modern West Virginia town being transported intact into the Europe of the Thirty Years War? Or Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park without the idea of cloning dinosaurs from ancient DNA? Or (in another genre) any of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes without the idea of a private detective versed in science, logic, and attention to detail?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The red queen of cosmology and astrophysics

 Charles Dodgson -- aka Lewis Carroll -- was a very clever guy. I could give many examples, but today I'm thinking of the Red Queen's race in Through the Looking Glass:
"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."

"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
 Why think about Alice's adventures?